Beverly Fawell, a longtime DuPage County lawmaker and member of one of the area's most prominent political families, died Saturday at age 82.
"DuPage County had no bigger champion or cheerleader than her," said state Sen. Kirk Dillard, a Hinsdale Republican.
Fawell was remembered by her former colleagues as both an advocate for the disabled in Springfield and a dedicated mother, giving up her post in the state Senate in 1999 to instead care for the grandchildren left behind when her son, Steve, died at age 45.
"I love the job and I'm going to miss parts of it, but I promised my son before he died I would watch his sons, so that's what I'm doing," Fawell said at the time.
Fawell served in the Illinois House and Senate from 1981 to 1999.
"As the chief architect of Illinois' first law to establish assisted living facilities in the state, she cajoled, negotiated, and dogged everyone for more than two years," Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said in a statement. "She was determined to offer senior citizens another choice in how they would live in the 'golden years.'"
"At a time when human services didn't receive as much attention from Springfield, Beverly was always a great advocate for the disabled," Dillard added.
After her retirement from the Illinois Senate, Fawell later became a College of DuPage trustee and was heavily involved in the local Republican Party.
"There have been several suggestions on how I should spend my next few years," Fawell said shortly after her retirement from the Senate. "I certainly can't imagine myself sitting home knitting little things."
She was replaced in the Illinois Senate by Republican Peter Roskam, who now is part of the GOP leadership team in Congress.
"Our state has lost a great role model and champion for the advocacy of mental health issues. Sen. Beverly Fawell's legacy of support for families and the disabled will leave a lasting impact in our community and it was an honor to know her," Roskam said in a statement.
Fawell and her family faced stress when her son, Scott Fawell, was convicted on corruption charges in 2003 in the high-profile investigation of former Gov. George Ryan.
Scott Fawell said despite her public service, his mother focused on her family.
"She was a mother first," Scott Fawell said. "She'd give it all up if the family needed her, and she did."
"She took a lot of things worse than one of her children did," he said.
A visitation is scheduled from 2 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Williams-Kammp Funeral Home in Wheaton. A memorial will follow at 11 a.m. Thursday at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn.
The family has asked for donations to the National Alliance on Mental Illness in DuPage County in lieu of flowers.
Additional funeral information can be found at www.williams-kampp.com.